Wednesday, January 27

Taking a Watercolor Break

Watercolor on Paper
9 x 7 in/22.9 x 17.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2016
I hope your painting life is going well so far in the new year.

I finally discovered what I've been doing this whole month of January. I've been taking a watercolor break. It wasn't until this week as I looked back that I realized I have not painted anything except watercolor beginning January 4th or 5th.

I evidently needed a break from my (water-soluble) oil and acrylic landscapes from 2015. I haven't painted with watercolor since way back sometime in 2014. I'm so glad I did.

It let me re-discover not only the beautiful work one can muster but also the quirky ways you have to work in the medium--light to dark, correct amount of water, and those edges...

It also gave my mind and my mind's eye a needed respite from the other mediums and landscapes. I do hope that although I was taking a break that the artistic wheels in my brain continued to spin. If so, when I do resume with acrylics and oils, I'll be even better and ready to roll.

Let's see what February 1 will bring.

Wednesday, January 20

Ah, Watercolor!

An Apple
Watercolor on Paper
6 x6 in/15.2 x 15.2 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2016
Ah, put painting (and life) in perspective.

You're so fickle. You're so capricious.  You make us want to scream bloody murder and break our paintbrushes over our knees as golfers do their clubs.

You tease us with your transparent beauty and mesmerizing colors.

We try, try, and try again to control you, to little or no avail.

And yet, we keep coming back for more as if to say, "You can't do this to me. I'm better than that."

One thing is crystal clear, absolutely nothing tests our patience more or makes us feel as powerless as you do.

Watercolor, taming you is a lifelong quest.

Tuesday, January 12

How to Keep Your Painting Vibrant

Reflecting the Light
Watercolor on Paper
 8.5 x 5.5 in/21.6 x 14 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2016
Has this happened to you as a painter? That is, you look at the paintings you've completed over the last several weeks/months/seasons (pick one), and all you can say is "Meh."

Well, me too. Sad, but true, all painters go through this. It seems to happen at the beginning of the year. I'm sure it has to do with the calendar page turning to January and feeling I should be showing some signs of progress and moving on.

Why is this? I came up with the following.

- Fear of (trying) something new--this is known a neophobia or cainophobia (drop that into the conversation at your next cocktail party)

- Boredom with your medium

- Boredom with your motifs/subjects

- Insecurity with your ability to paint (happens when you constantly compare yourself to other painters)

So, what to do?

To keep your painting vibrant, I heartily recommend:

- Overcome your neophobia by being open to change; quickly rip off the bandage that's holding you back and walk in the sunshine (you must and you will).

- Select a new or different medium and use it to paint your very next painting; I recently started painting with watercolors again.

- Paint something--anything--that you never or almost never paint; I am going to do several watercolors this month, which is a change for me.

- Embrace your own personal painting style and quit wishing your painting life away by fawning over other painters' work; a lot of painting and time are the only things that will move you to the place you want to be.

That's how to keep your painting vibrant.

Wednesday, January 6

Happy New Painting Year

Ripe on the Stem
Watercolor on Paper
12 x 9 in/30.5 x 22.9 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2016
I wanted to start off 2016 with something different, it being a time for new starts and all that.

That's why I decided to pull out my watercolor paints, which I haven't used since at least sometime in 2014 (I think). Not sure why except that it seemed like time to paint with them again.

I spent all of 2015 with my water-soluble oils and my acrylics, both of which I am very fond and both of which I am very comfortable.

And yet, I do remember the several years I spent painting almost exclusively with watercolor. Like riding that proverbial bicycle, you never really forget how. You just need to dust off the cobwebs and give it another go.

One of my favorite things to paint (and to eat) is chile peppers. So I did!

I immediately remembered how fresh and bright watercolors are. And how they give you a feeling of freedom because you can paint so much with so little effort and with big brushstrokes. Of course, there are a few things you have to remember with watercolor, like you can't paint lights over darks, you have to be careful with edges, and to leave bare paper for any highlights.

I enjoyed it, time well spent. I just may do more watercolors this year. Oh, and Happy New Year to all.